I spent a fair amount of time mulling over what I wanted to blog about today. I had this time because I got up at oh dark thirty (7:30a.m., actually, but it felt like oh dark thirty) and got shanghaied into helping the House Leroy harvest, clean and braid the garlic, harvest our pathetic crop of adolescent onions (they’re not ready, but we’re tired of waiting), and identify the herbs (note to self: plant ONE kind of herb per pot, and keep a record of what is where). After a heated argument about whether or not we had lemon balm on the pot on the porch, we repaired to the garage, where the House Leroy was able to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pot on the porch holds lemon basil, not lemon balm. On the way into the house, in between ill-considered gloats about who knows what’s where when it comes to the yard, the House Leroy also pointed out the first of what promises to be many zucchinis. I mentioned the Zuccone, by Donatello. My remarks were not well received.
So now my hands smell like garlic and onions, with a light topnote of lemon basil, spicy hot thyme, and oregano, and I’ve got a sad little pile of onions on the cupboard right next to two fat braids of some of the most beautiful garlic I’ve ever seen, and beside that is a flat pan filled with lemon balm, which I’m planning on putting into some extra virgin olive oil along with some lavender (it’s supposed to make a nice marinade for your hands). I’m very proud.
This afternoon I’m planning to go down to my mom’s house and photograph my son, my niece, my nephew, and their Great Dane Delilah going down my mother’s gigantic slip-n-slide, if all goes well. This slip-n-slide is a remnant from my parents’ second career as ag-baggers. Ag Bags are gigantic tubes about ten feet in diameter and 120 feet long. They are made out of a sooper-dooper heavy multi-layered, multi-colored plastic. At some point my parents ended up with about fifty feet of plastic tube left, and nothing to put into it. Since they had grandchildren in the house at the time, Dad took his pocket knife and slit that tube open, laid it on the hill beside my parents’ house, rounded up every hose he could find and enough concrete blocks to anchor the plastic and hoses in place, started up the water, and rounded up the grandkids.
Since the slip-n-slide is close to thirty feet wide and fifty feet long, and since the last time we used it there were five hoses shooting water over the whole thing, there is none of this nonsense about taking turns, or waiting in line. If you want to go, you go. And if somebody else wants to go, they go too, several feet over.
So why am I writing about herbs, garlic braids, and slip-n-slides? Because that’s what I can control. After watching the debacle in our nation’s capitol, after watching the people who are supposed to be our leaders happily sacrificing the well-being of people like me for the benefit of the companies who have robbed us blind, who are experiencing record profits, and who have bought and paid for said leaders, and watching the president who swore he would look out for people like me sign a bill that makes things worse, not better, I have realized once again that the big things are out of my hands. I have called my Congressmen. I have blogged. I have voted. And I have watched a tiny minority completely hamstring the process. And I have watched the majority let them do it.
When I think about it it makes me angry. I should be. Anger is appropriate when you have been betrayed. It might be appropriate, but it’s not constructive in this case. So I will call my senator (Senator Widen, are you listening?) and I will call my representative (yes, you, Mr. Walden) and I will express my anger, my frustration, my sense of betrayal, and what their actions have cost me politely and firmly. And it will do exactly nothing.
The hard truth that the last few years have taught us is that, contrary to what every politician claims to be doing, they are not working for our benefit. Nor are they doing the will of the people. If they were, things would look very different right now. At the very least, we would have had more principled congressmen like freshman senator Jeff Merkley, who had the courage to shame the devil and vote “no” on the “compromise” that came out of the Senate, a “compromise” that, in House Speaker Boehner’s words, gave the Republicans “98% of what they asked for.” That is not compromise. That is not “working together.” That “compromise” is predicted to cost millions of jobs. But hey, at least the rich folks get to keep their historically low taxes on their jets! We can all celebrate that.
In my case, the anger and the disappointment are there, sitting inside. I’m not going to be watching the news for the forseeable future. I won’t see anything that I can remedy. Instead, I will watch my tomatoes ripen. I will experiment with herbed oils. I will make pesto. I will buy peaches and eat them until my chin and arms are sticky. I will watch my son play with his cousins on a piece of plastic that’s older than they are (Ag Bag makes its products sturdy, with a capital “urdy”). I will play with the cats. I will drink coffee on the porch with the House Leroy, and argue with him about what herbs are where. I will try to ignore the fact that, though on a small scale my life is very good, our national life is dying. Greed is like a cancer, and it’s sucking vital nutrients from our national body.
Yesterday I heard our nation’s leaders–not the crazy lunatic fringes or the cynical politicos who drove us to the edge of the abyss for money and for power, but the leaders who actually have been trying to find a way out of this mess–saying that at this point our most attractive option seems to be a complete breakdown. And they were predicting it would happen because now we have a Super-Congress (as if the Regular-Congress wasn’t bad enough), and Mr. McConnell and Mr. Boehner are planning to appoint their half not from congressmen who are able and willing to compromise for the good of all, but from the ranks of their most intransigent, ideologically-driven lunatic fringe. Not only are the crazy people running the asylum, but if the Republicans have their way they will be running the rest of the world as well.
When our best hope lies in the breakdown of government we’re in trouble. And it’s been abundantly proven over the past few years–and particularly over the past few months–that there’s not a thing that public opinion can do about it. We write, we call. We protest. And in the end the very people who said if we made our voices heard we could make a difference caved. Folded. Walked away and left us standing with our mouths open. We are powerless, and it sucks.
So I’m giving up, at least for now. I’m going to do my best to keep my house. I’m going to pay my bills. I’m going to try to see to it that my kid gets some kind of education. I’m going to try to not get sick. I’m going to do my best to enjoy my life. I will continue to contribute where I can, when I can, to my community. I’m going to vote–not the Democratic or the Independent parties, but for anybody who’s not a Republican or, god forbid, a Tea-Bagger. Not that I’m going to expect anything good, but maybe if we can get the rational body count in Congress high enough they might accidentally do something that benefits somebody other than the richest and most corrupt organizations going. And I’m going to do everything I can to get the hell as far off the grid as I possibly can.
But all that’s for later. For today, I’m going to comb my hair, grab my camera, and go take pictures of my kid sliding down a gigantic sheet of plastic with his cousins.